A Veterans Commissioner for Wales will be appointed this year, the UK Government has announced.
The Veterans Commissioner for Wales will work to enhance support for veterans in Wales, as well as scrutinising relevant policy in the country.
The role builds on the success of counterpart roles in Scotland and Northern Ireland and will mean that all devolved nations have a veterans commissioner.
It comes as the Office for Veterans’ Affairs publishes the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan. The plan includes 60 commitments from across government, including the launch of the new Welsh commissioner role, to support veterans, totalling more than £70 million in funding.
The plan will increase employment, step up health and wellbeing services and improve data and understanding of the veteran community.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said: “The Wales Veterans Commissioner will be an independent voice on veterans issues and help champion the interests of the ex-forces community.
“Regardless of where veterans are in the UK, we want them to be able to access the best quality support.”
Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “The Armed Forces have a long and important tradition in Wales and we are exceptionally proud of our Welsh veterans. Our ex-servicemen and women and their families deserve recognition, support and respect throughout the duration of their service and beyond.
“The appointment of a Veterans Commissioner for Wales will increase and coordinate the support available and highlights the UK Government’s commitment to the welfare of the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.”
Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn said: “I’d like to welcome the decision to appoint a Veterans Commissioner for Wales, this will add value to the established wealth of support and services we deliver for veterans in Wales.
“From our unique Veterans NHS Wales service, that supports veterans with mental health issues to our Armed Forces Liaison Officers providing support to veterans and their families with information on local support available in key areas such as healthcare and housing, supporting charities to tackle loneliness and social isolation and resources to support organisations in the employment of veterans.
“As a Government we remain committed to provide services and support for our veterans in Wales and today’s announcement adds to that.
“The Welsh Government also provides support for veterans in devolved areas, such as the Veterans NHS Wales service that ensures every local health board has a specialist veterans therapist. The Welsh Government also supports the UK Government’s Great Place to Work initiative, as well as the Veterans Railcard.”
Commitments in the Veterans Strategy Action Plan include:
- The Welsh Government supporting the Veterans NHS Wales specialist mental healthcare service and Veterans Trauma Network (VTN) Wales service for veterans with complex physical injuries
- The Welsh Government will work with Armed Forces Liaison Officers (AFLOs) and partners including regional suicide and self-harm prevention coordinators to promote mental health first aid training
- The Welsh Government will review and publish a new “Armed Forces Covenant, Healthcare Priority for Veterans Guidance.”
(Lead image: Minister Hannah Blythyn at Remembrance commemorations last year)
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